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Starting our trip around the Emerald Isle

picture of Carnlough harbour

After the little trip to Denmark, so Sarah could get her US visa organised, we enjoyed a few more days in Belfast. We cannot say enough how lovely we thought Belfast was.

We ended up having a great dinner at the vegetarian asian fusion restaurant Jumon and had a beer in that area, which is very lively and great for people spotting. And there were so many other places we also wanted to try, but then we could stay in Belfast forever. But we can also recommend the bakery Bakari, that makes great ryebread and tebirkes, which both is a very Danish thing.

oldest bar in Belfast

Visiting the Belfast Harbour office is like entering a museum and the building is so pretty. Also they have a table displayed, which was supposed to be the captain of Titanic’s dinner table, but because of production delays it didn’t make it on board. It looks very nice, but after having it on Antiques Roadshow, they were apparently told it was not that special if it wasn’t for the connection to Titanic.

After a few days of prepping and eating, we found the weather window to start the journey North. Sailing in this area of Northern Ireland takes a lot of planning with the tides and currents as you can easily get 4 knots against you, which will slow you down a lot and if the wind is against the current, you can be in for quite a bumpy and turbulent ride.

picture of Sarah at the help of sailing boat halbert rassy 40

We decided to stop at the little harbour town Glenarm, which is halfway to the north eastern corner of Northern Ireland.

Glenarm and Game of Thrones

picture of sailing boat snow bear at glenarm marina

Though Glemarm in a quite small village it is very charming and has a castle, old castle towers, old churches and plenty of walks around the area.

At the visitor information at Glenarm Marina we found a Game of Thrones (GOT) map, where you can find locations that the popular show was filmed. We could see that the neighbouring town 5 kilometres away had a small harbour, that had been used in the show, so we decided to go for a walk.

Unfortunately the path though the woods had been closed (because someone had fallen and was attempting to Sue the local authorities!) so we had to walk along the sea road where the vehicles drove quite fast and Sarah almost jumped onto the steep sea wall a few times because of the oncoming traffic.

picture of boats in 
Carnlough harbour

We came to town Carnlough and as neither of us are hardcore GOT fans (Sarah has seen it once and Steve 4 episodes of season 1), we were a little uncertain what had been used in the show. The harbour was really cute, so we thought it must be the corner with the old bridge and the tavern. On a plague however we learned, that it was only the steps into the water. So we really think you have to be very big fans to travel to see it, but it is fun to see if you are in the area.

What we found very interesting though was, that the harbour wasn’t shown at any of Steve’s electronic and paper charts. We asked a local fisherman who was busy demolishing a 100 year old wooden fishing boat if he knew but he had no idea why, but said it was a perfectly fine marina to sail into, but might be a little crowded if too many got the idea.

We got a panini at Harbour Lights cafe and it was quite good along with the fries, but that salad that came with it tasted a little stale and the coffee wasn’t too interesting.

On the way back we found a less trafficked road up the mountain, so we didn’t need to jump into the sea.

Reintroducing Native Oysters

It was interesting to see and learn that a native oyster nursery at Glenarm Marina aims to revive native oysters along this coastline, led by Ulster Wildlife. The initiative plans to release up to 800 million oyster larvae annually, potentially restoring these vital marine species, enhancing biodiversity, and mitigating water pollution. Once abundant, native oysters faced decline in the 1800s due to overfishing, diseases, invasive species, and pollution. Now, with over 800 mature native oysters sourced from Loch Ryan in Scotland, suspended in purpose-built cages suspended from the marina pontoons, efforts are well underway to rejuvenate the local population.

The Bridge End Tavern, Glenarm

That evening we went to the local pub and that was very good. We started chatting to the owner (also Steve) and some locals and Steve had a very well served Guinness. We learned that this was also where the locals could by a bottle of wine (that they would knew where to get into the back room and help themselves and just pay for it at the bar ) and it just felt like a very cosy place.

After a few days we got the right weather window to sail to Ballycastle and get around the tricky corner at Fair Head.

While sailing along the coastal line, Sarah tried to see all the GOT locations on land so that she can recognise them when we see the show again. But even if you haven’t seen GOT it is a stunning scenary to sail by. Especially Fair Head, which is a dramatic headland cliff (also used in GOT). As soon as we sailed around this corner, the weather changed from calm motor sailing to strong 30knot wind straight in the face, so we quickly furled the Genoa and took down the main sail and motored into the well protected harbour at Ballycastle.

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